Did Corona misdeclare properties?

Carmela Fonbuena
The value of his properties in deeds of sale show they are worth much more than what his SALNs declare

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Renato Corona appears to have been untruthful in his Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALNs) he filed while he was in government.

The value of his properties in deeds of sale show they are worth much more than what his SALNs declare. Rappler editor at large Marites Dañguilan Vitug wrote about these properties and their values in this story.

REAL PROPERTIES: Based on Chief Justice Corona's SALN from 2002-2010

His real properties in 2002 were valued at P10.1 million, with no liabilities incurred. Values rose slightly in 2003 to about P14 million. This remained constant for six years until 2009.

In 2010, real property values went up to about P18.5 million.

From 2002, the time he was appointed to the High Court, all the way to 2009, all declared properties were located in Quezon City.

In 2010, the year he became Chief Justice, the value of his real properties rose to about P18.5 million. This time, he acquired properties in Makati and Taguig, including a P6.8-million condominium in Taguig. These were on top of properties in Quezon City.

Marikina Rep Romero Quimbo, one of the spokespersons of the prosecution, said in a press conference that his SALNs do not seem to reflect the properties he purchased.

“The SALN does not specifically show the actual property. It shows you the area, the city, the market value,” Quimbo said.

Corona’s SALNs provide only very general information with no specific addresses, and instead only indicate land, house, condo, house and lot.

Conservatively, assuming that the Chief Justice had only five properties to his name, Quimbo said “it’s either these properties are valued at one million, P2 million each or P3 million each, which certainly is not the case.”

Assets and Liabilities

In 2002, he declared no debts but started to incur an P11-million liabillity the year after he was appointed to the Supreme Court. The liability was attributed to a cash advance from his wife’s family corporation, Basa-Guidote Enterprises Inc.

Corona’s assets rose to P18.3 million in 2003 from P15 million the year before. The value of these assets remained unchanged all the way to 2005. A year later in 2006, his assets dropped to P17.5 million and stayed constant again all the way to 2009.

It was only in 2010 that the value of his assets rose to P22 million, and he cleared his liabilities. In his latest SALN, “two parcels of land in QC” were sold to purchase two Taguig condos. Rappler research showed that one property in La Vista was sold for P18 million to his daughter in 2010. An Ayala Heights property was sold for P8 million also in 2010.

Both properties, according to his 2009 SALN were worth P3 million each. In December 2009, research also showed that Corona purchased a condominium unit in Bellagio Tower 1 at the Fort in Taguig. This was worth P14.5 million but was declared to have a market value of only P6.8 million in 2010.

Transparency

“This is a very good development for the country. It’s a big day for transparency,” said Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, also a spokesperson of the prosecution panel.

Corona’s SALNs were submitted to the impeachment court by Supreme Court Clerk of Court Enriquetta Vidal after she was ordered by Presiding Judge Juan Ponce-Enrile to do so. She initially refused after defense lead counsel Serafin Cuevas tried to prevent her from turning over the documents.

Vidal invoked the High Court’s May 1989 en banc resolution exempting justices from making public their SALNs.

Angara said, “It’s been 22 years since the SALN of the Supreme Court justice has been made public.” – Rappler.com

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